Thursday, September 28, 2006

President Musharraf Is Right

Over the last couple of days there has been some outrage in the Canadian blogosphere over President Musharraf's remarks, in a CBC interview, where he told Canada to quit crying.
"When a soldier puts on a uniform and he joins the army, is this for fighting or for peacekeeping? What has he joined the army for? He's joined to fight, and when you fight, there are casualties. The nation must be prepared to suffer casualties. So if you're not prepared to suffer casualties as an army, then don't participate in any operation," Musharraf said. - [Globe]
Where exactly is Musharraf wrong? He is not belittling our war effort, but our whining about it.

It would be wrong to say Pakistan places less value on a soldier's life. Every commander hates to lose men. Yes, they do not have free press to the extent that we do, therefore they cannot examine whether their soldiers died for a valid reason or a just cause.

Most of the opposition to Canada's new war in Afghanistan by Canada's "new" government has stemmed from the fact that increasing number of Canadian soldiers have begun to be killed disproportionately in recent times. If we have to oppose the direction this war is taking, it should NOT be due to increasing body counts - but whether our approach to Afghanistan is right for democracy to prevail, or whether our troops are being increasingly placed in needless danger for political reasons. To critics of Musharraf, I ask you this: if tomorrow the Canadian public was told that in a newly planned operation in Afghanistan, necessary for military reasons, we were expecting 500 casualties, do you think support for the mission would go up, stay the same, or Canadians would be up in arms in protest?

If you have to criticize Musharraf, criticize him for this. Or this.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Liberals Call For Daniel Petit's Resignation

This is inexcusable.

After the Montreal shootings, Charlesbourg MP Daniel Petit of the Conservative Party of Canada made the following comment:
"the reason that the three gunmen terrorized Montreal campuses was because they were not "pure laines" (old-stock francophones)."
This is a racist comment. This comment is unbecoming of a Member of Parliament of any party. An apology is not enough, punishment is necessary.

Where is the outrage on the Blogging Tories? I remember a few weeks ago when they jumped on Denis Coderre for attending a pro-Lebanese rally in Quebec, without acknowledging the fact that the MP spoke against terrorism. Garth Turner is all over those Lebanese-Canadians, who have now returned to their homes after being evacuated.

The Liberal Party of Canada has already issued a statement calling for Mr Petit to resign, or for Prime Minister Harper to sack him.

See also A Conservative Blogger's "Paki" Rant


Gerard Kennedy Is The Right Man For Liberals

Very rarely in politics do you get to vote for a politician you really like; usually you have to pick the lesser of two evils. I am glad to say that amongst the candidates for the Liberal leadership, there is one person I can genuinely vote for and that person is Gerard Kennedy. I agree with most of his stances on various issues, and endorse him whole heartedly for the coveted post.

Immigrant Success

This is an issue very close to my heart. In my interview with Dion, I had asked him what he would do to help immigrants get the jobs in Canada (for which they emigrated to via the points system in the first place). I liked Dion's answer, and I like Kennedy's strategy. I wish the two could be merged.

First of all, Kennedy wants to declare "closing the gap between Canadian-born citizens and immigrants of similar education and work experience" a National Priority. Recognition of the problem is the first step - and so far this problem has been marginalized, despite Canada losing an estimated $6 billion per year.

Kennedy advocates greater recognition of skilled labour within Canada's Point System, increased focus on family reunification and greater access to language programs.


When the Taliban was first toppled, I had great hopes. After all, the Taliban were abusing Islam and the muslims of Afghanistan, perpetuating great myths (such as women not working when the Prophet's own sister-in-law worked, that too in the fields, or no education for women). They were engaging in barbaric massacres, such as Mazar-e-Sharif. They were engaging in supporting terro rism.

However the mission was so badly mismanaged (lack of sufficient manpower, for example) that now it is a losing mission. We cannot overwhelm the Taliban by might alone.
"We cannot eliminate the Taliban, not militarily anyway," Gordon O'Connor told Reuters in an interview on September 7 from Australia [Globe].
Yet we are there, losing lives, dollars and goodwill. We need to help the Afghanistan people, but in other ways. Kennedy has called our strategy in Afghanistan a losing strategy and I agree. He wants to reevaluate the mission and I agree.


Kennedy is not for declaring one part of the country a "nation" or re-examining the constitution. He wants to fight for Canada. That's why he has called for Saskatchewan to become a leader in bio-fuel technology (which will also aid our environment), values his Western roots (set up Canada's first food bank in Edmonton), had an eye on our climate by calling for a GST aid to hybrid car purchasers. He had worked as MPP and in cabinet in Ontario, where our education system now unrecognizable from the mess that it was under the Harris government.

Foreign Affairs

Kennedy has supported a balanced view of the Middle East, calling on Israel for restraint and deploring the Canadian lives (and others) lost in the recent Israel-Lebanon conflict. Unlike Harper, Kennedy thinks Canada can be a leader while promoting peace, while Harper's ideas of leadership roles are a bit different. Kennedy is for solutions and peace, not for war. When the news about the arrests of the Toronto 17 broke, Kennedy was one of the first to offer an honest statement, which while congratulating the police and RCMP, also stated we must assume the suspects "not guilty unless proven", and also not discriminate against other Canadians of similar faith and culture. Frankly, he didn't jump on the 'We Are Not Scared' bandwagon, when none of the charges are proven, and now that we know that the RCMP can make mistakes, and then try and hide them.


A full list of Kennedy's positions and statements on various issues is available from his webpage. He is young, charismatic, has been in our country for the last little while, has been a Liberal as far as I can remember, has no baggage and is bilingual. He can appeal for support from various constituencies, and I am sure is the right man to lead our country. I hope he stays in the leadership race till the end, and wins it.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why Is Curling Recalled?

When I was growing in a 3rd world country, some friends of my father, who were ambassadors to foreign countries, knew that their postings were temporary, until the government changed. When a new party would rise to power, the party leaders would appoint their own friends and inner circle to lucrative foreign posts. I never knew such a tactic would be present in Canada.

By mutual consent, most ambassadorial positions are appointed to men and women who deserve the honour, and their loyalty is mostly to the country rather than to a particular political party. Even if the Senate is a centre for patronage appointments, most of the Senate appointees are lawyers, judges, businessmen and other prominent figures in Canada's political scene, and their loyalty is to Canada first and foremost. They are a safeguard against politicians trying to leverage short term gains.

Canada's "New" Government must explain why it recalled MPP Alvin Curling from his post as ambassador to the Dominican Republic, a post for which he quit as MPP and Speaker of Ontario Legislature. He was the first black Speaker of a House for Canada, and served as MPP for over 20 years.
He [Curling] could think of no reason for being axed other than partisan preference, explaining he must have fallen out of favour with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He added: "I didn't come with a Liberal agenda; I came with a Canadian agenda."

A spokeswoman at Foreign Affairs said the department does not comment on appointments, and calls to the PMO yesterday were not returned.

Curling joins a growing list of Liberal-appointed diplomats who have been recalled - a not-unusual practice with a change in government.

After the Conservative victory in January, some resigned from their posts, such as Frank McKenna, the former New Brunswick premier who stepped down as ambassador to Washington, and former federal minister Allan Rock, who resigned his post at the United Nations.

Others are slowly being called back. In July, former MP Stan Keyes was recalled from his position as consul general in Boston, and, this month, former MP Karen Kraft Sloan's position as Canadian Ambassador of the Environment was abolished.

Last week, former MP Yvon Charbonneau was recalled as Canada's ambassador to UNESCO.

"I think Harper is being overzealous," said Delores Lawrence, president of Operation Black Vote Canada, which encourages black Canadians to participate in politics. Members of the black community are "very disappointed and very upset by this," she said.
- [Star]
Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper was out of town when the house apologized to Maher Arar, a man the Prime Minister at one time called a "suspected terrorist". When Conservatives think why they cannot get more votes from the immigrant or multicultural communities, they should ponder on the optics of a case such as this. No wonder we don't see the Conservative Party as one of our own.


Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pope And His Speech

The first headline this morning on CNN:

Muslim fury at pope jihad comments

"Oh no," was the first thought that came to my head. "Not again!"

So the pope believes (wrongly) that Islam was spread by the sword and by violence.

I hope the hordes of illiterate, oppressed and unemployed Muslims in the developing world do not take the decision to prove him wrong by burning down embassies, churches or businesses. It seems every time there is an opportunity to put a foot in our mouth, the Muslims in the uneducated East will oblige.

First - the Pope is wrong. If Islam was really enforced on the colonies, then all of India, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Greece, Armenia, Sudan, Egypt etc. would all have been Muslims. The Coptic church survived thousand years of Muslim rule. The Ottomans never interfered with the local churches. The Mughals in India did not convert hordes of Hindus and Brahmins into Muslims.

And Indonesia would never have become Muslim either. No Muslim army landed in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore.

Second, and this I find troubling, is why the Pope made those statements. It's one thing if he believes it. It's also negligible if it's a slip up; but if he deliberately made those statements to provoke a certain reaction, then he is guilty of a serious charge. He wants a clash of civilizations - that's very easy to get in today's polarized world.

I had hoped the Catholic church was going to move into the twenty first century. Yet, one of the first statements I recall from this pope was that Turkey shouldn't be allowed into the European Union as this would dilute Europe's "Christian" heritage. The Pope also wanted situations of Christians in the Muslim world to improve (I would like to know how his current statements would help them). On one hand the Pope leads a fight for the rights of this minority and on the other hand the Pope leads the fight against same sex marriage and gay rights. And now, he reads a 14th century criticism of Islam in discussion of the present century (as if there was a shortage of criticism from this century). One has to question - why?

UPDATE: (11.15 am) I am in NYC so it will be hard to have the updates of this sitation but I will try.

In India, taking strong exception to the remarks, Congress party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said: "The Pope should have spoken with more wisdom. He is not merely the head of a religion, he is also the head of a state (Vatican)."

The (Hindu nationalist) BJP's reaction was stronger. "The pope should immediately clarify his position and if he has actually made the remarks he should apologise," senior party leader Mukthar Abbas Naqvi said. [link]

In a gross overreaction a Turkish lawmaker compared the Pope to Hitler.

In an alarming development, Reuters reported an explosion at a Gaza church, meanwhile BBC showed pictures of Sunni and Shia muslims marching in India, burning effigies of the Pope, while Pakistan deployed forces to guard Catholic churches.

BBC has a variety of "important" people in the Muslim "community" who have decided to take offense.

Again, one has to wonder at the Pope - why? Did any Muslim leader criticize your faith, your religion or you that you suddenly decide to be Pope Urban II (or XIVI or whatever).


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And The Reasons To Vote For Watson Are ...

Am I the only Liberal who is getting irritated at the increasingly negative tone of the by-election in Parkdale-High Park? For the last week or so, rather than outlining reasons on why we should vote for local city councillor Sylvia Watson, we have been hearing selectively edited excerpts of a speech by her NDP opponent Cheri DiNovo.

This battle has ceased to be about ideas, about local issues, about riding issues and has become a negative mudslinging match. That's not what the Liberal party should be about - especially when we are talking about renewal.

The Liberal party is the best party to be but sometimes they do not choose the best candidates. For example, in Scarborough-Rouge River by-election last year I would have preferred local councillor Raymond Cho (who has done a lot for the area) but he was not nominated.

Are there any good reasons to vote for Ms Watson? If so, I want to hear about it.

This statement of Mr McGuinty angers me to no end:
"Look, it's a tough by-election for us," the premier told reporters at an event held at the High Park home of prominent Liberal strategist Peter Donolo. "We're going to fight as hard as we can."
The end justifies the means, eh? Where have we heard that before, I wonder.

I am not outraged at the number of government ministers on the campaign trail, Mr John Tory's outrage there seems to me hypocritical - in a pinch the Tories would do the same. However, Paul Martin ran a negative campaign last time and lost. The Harper Tories ran a positive idea-based campaign and won. The Ontario Tories ran a negative campaign and lost. The McGuinty campaign ran an issue-based positive campaign and won.

And for the record, I read the full script of Ms DiNovo's sermon, and I do think she is more coddling and forgiving of criminals than I would be. But guess what - she's a priest. That was her sermon. When legislating, the NDP always votes with one voice and I cannot imagine the NDP voting to reduce punishments for child molestation, pedophilia or sexual assault. One of Layton's big promises of the last election was getting tough on crime. Yes, he also promised to fight for more statutory holidays but I am yet to see him getting results for people in that area.

From my understanding of her speech, Ms DiNovo implied harm was more likely to come from people we know than the stranger down the street. I would like to know what she proposes we can do in that regard. I would like to hear Ms. Watson's thoughts on the condos that continue to go up on the waterfront. I would like to hear their musings on the never ending construction along certain areas of the riding. I would like to hear about the high property taxes (that continue to increase every year) forcing long time residents to sell their houses. I would like them to debate the island airport issue. I would like them to outline their plan to fight for cities in the Ontario legislature. I don't want to dwell on selectively edited excerpts of an old speech.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Laws To Protect Homeowners Just A Start

Regarding Ontario's new laws to "protect" homeowners from fraud:

The laws fail in one important aspect - they do not fine the bank that approved the mortgage to a faulty title in the first place. In the case shown in the article, a simple phone call to the house would have prevented a lot of hassle to the rightful homeowner. Fining fraudsters is great - only if you can catch them. The article says the person taking out the mortgage 'disappeared'. In this age of documentation and computerization, how did the bank give a mortgage to a fraud? And who will stop the bank as they now try to harass the proper homeowner.

The new 'laws' are just tinkering. The fault is with the government-run land titles registration system, and there seems to be no change on offer there [Star].
Currently, the law provides that fraudulent property transactions based on bogus mortgages, land transfers, and powers of attorney are considered lawful by the courts as soon as they are registered under the province's land titles system.

Because of that defect, homeowners may find themselves on the hook for mortgages fraudulently put on their property without their knowledge — instead of the banks and the mortgage companies.

Homeowners may also discover to their horror that they are in danger of losing their properties permanently to people who bought them from criminals without knowing of the fraud.
The government should amend the Land Titles Assurance Fund, which should also provide legal help to victims of land fraud. The fault is with the failure of the government's run land registry system - so why should victims pony up the cash for legal fees? Cases take a long time to settle as well - leaving legal homeowners in limbo.

In going after the fraudsters, will the law also tackle the lawyers who prepared these fake legal documents? After all, you need a lawyer to affect a land transfer.
Actress Elizabeth Shepherd, whose Leslieville home was recently stolen by criminals who rented the property and then put a large mortgage on it using forged documents, said she "resented" having to go through "this expensive and cumbersome process for seeking compensation.

"I don't see why I should be one cent out of pocket," she said. "It's not my fault. The bank is responsible for handing out mortgages without due diligence."

Shepherd said her quest for compensation is "draining. It is extremely time-consuming and I have to spend so much time researching the situation and meeting with my lawyers."
At best, this is a start. The government should not now claim 'job done'.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Vatican Flexes Muscle - III

The Pope is at it again.

Today, he lashed out at Canadians for allowing gay marriage and abortion.
Pope Benedict hit out Friday at Canada for allowing same sex marriage and abortion, saying they result from Catholic politicians ignoring the values of their religion.

"In the name of tolerance your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of freedom of choice it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children," the Pope told a group of bishops from Ontario.

Such laws, he said, are the result of "the exclusion of God from the public sphere."
Well, excuse me, it's not exclusion of God but your version of God. Just as you won't like me to tell you what you should worship, neither should you tell me how I should worship.

As Pope and leader of Catholics he has every right to tell Catholics how to conduct their religious affairs. As leader of a state he has no right to interfere with our legislative matters. I would like my Catholic politicians to keep their religion aside when legislation. Just as I would want for politicians from any other religion.

From my other blog:

Vatican, Canada and homosexuality.

Vatican, Slovakia and Abortion


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Japan Celebrates Birth of Boy

The news on TV showed ecstatic Japanese crowds celebrating the birth of a baby boy in the royal house.

Japanese Crowds [CNN]

Obviously stories of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Nepal (both self-proclaimed 'religious' states) etc. where the birth of a boy is preferred and women denied their rights are tragic. However, I would have expected better of the up and coming developing countries such as China, India and Japan.
"A few days before India's 60th Independence Day celebrations, government officials in Punjab, one of the wealthiest states of India and also the birthplace of Bhangra music, discovered dozens of female fetuses dumped in an unused well in a town called Patran." [Blogcritics]
The Indian film Matrubhoomi detailed the story of a village in India where no brides could be found (all the girls were killed while still babies) for men - therefore baby girls from nearby states were married to as many as 5 men. We already know that in China and India there are many more men than women.

And now we have the Japanese celebrating the birth of a prince. Forgetting that monarchy is an unjustified age-old chronism at best, this tells the princesses that their lives weren't worth a lot - just due to their gender. Japan cannot have a female successor to the throne. I would have thought we have come far from the time where baby girls were buried alive. Not so far, it appears. Shame on the Japanese government and the royal family and their supporters.